The City Winter 2011
The City Winter 2011 edition, a publication of Houston Baptist University.
T HE C ITY 14 C HRISTIANS , C ITIZENS , AND C IVILIZATION ]the0common0good} Jordan Ballor ach election cycle it seems that members of the main‐ stream media and political pundits discover anew that conservative Christians, and conservative evangelicals in particular, are deeply engaged in American politics. And each time commentators find a way to construe that en‐ gagement as problematic. As our nation heads into the presidential election of 2012, the role of Christians in politics is up for under ex‐ amination yet again. This should not be any real surprise. The experiment in American liberty has always been characteristically suspicious of deeply‐held convictions, particularly religious convictions, which might represent competition for a citizen’s loyalty. No less a figure than John Locke, for instance, declared that the Roman Catholic Church could not be tolerated in a modern free society because members of that church place themselves under the “protection and service of another prince.” Locke had in mind the pope in Rome, who was then and to this day remains the head of a sovereign state. It was just over fifty years ago that as a presidential candidate John F. Kennedy had to publicly affirm his faith in “an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant min‐ ister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote.” Modern democratic societies largely follow Locke’s lead and care not a whit for loyalty to “another prince,” so long as that prince E